Bad news for critics of President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe? Spokesperson to the Zimbabwean President, George Charamba has replied critics who constantly throw jabs at him with allegations of sleeping at public events. Mr. Charamba has explained that the 93-year-old is not sleeping, but is only protecting his aged eyes from bright lights.
President Mugabe on several occasions has been photographed sleeping (seemingly) during public gatherings, giving rise to speculations of doubt regarding his medical fitness. Zimbabwe’s President who is currently receiving specialized medical treatment for his eyes in Singapore has been advised by many stakeholders to step down considering his old age.
More so, some local sources have reported that the Zimbabwean leader who will be 94 this year is old and weak and sleeps a lot during meetings.
However, his spokesman has made an attempt to debunk such reports. George Charamba was quoted by Zimbabwe’s Herald Newspaper, as saying the 93-year-old was merely resting his eyes from bright lights.
“I feel like a failure when there is this reading that the president is sleeping in conferences – no”, he said.
According to him, the 93-year-old Zimbabwean President has a medical condition that means his eyes can’t handle bright lights.
Charamba’s comments follow the most recent ‘dozing incident’ where Mugabe was captured apparently nodding off at a World Economic Forum meeting in South Africa this month. Asides the SA episode, Mugabe was also photographed at Ghana’s 60th Independence anniversary; seemingly dozing during the parade.
However, his spokesperson has attempted to clear the air in response to the massive backlash hurled at the president and his team.
“At 93, there is something that happens to the eyes and the president cannot suffer bright lights.”
Mr. Charamba explained that instead of looking directly at the lights, Robert Mugabe always tends to look down to avoid the light rays, to protect his eyes. Mugabe’s spokesman also went further to liken the 93-year-old with late anti-apartheid South African leader Nelson Mandela.
It was a known fact that the legend’s eyes were sensitive to flash photography; after years of working in a limestone quarry while imprisoned on Robben Island. In the evening of his days, neither Mandela nor his team allowed the use of flash and the likes during interactions.
The Zimbabwean President who has been in power since 1980, is on his second trip for specialist eye treatment in Singapore. President Mugabe’s trips abroad for medical treatments are often criticized in his country in Zimbabwe, where health care has collapsed due to financial instability. Commenting on Mugabe’s trips, Chaamba said that the President only travels for specialist treatments and not for regular health care.
It appears age has finally taken a toll on the once vibrant Zimbabwean President. Reports have been circulating that the 93-year-old sometimes staggers or limps during gatherings; incidents which have reportedly found their way on social media.
However, these reports are of no significance to the leader who says he will continue to rule until God decides to take his life. Despite concerns over his health, Africa’s oldest leader says he intends to run again in elections next year. His wife has been reported to say that her husband would run “as a corpse” if he died before the polls.
Robert Mugabe who is of the Zimbabwean African National Union -Patriotic Front (ZANU -PF) political party, has already been endorsed as the party’s candidate for the country’s 2018 general elections.